Week 17 is here, marking the end of the 2020 NFL regular season. For some teams, a win means everything in trying to lock down seeding, division titles or wild-card berths to get into the playoffs, while a loss could send them home earlier than expected.
The postseason field has expanded by one team each in the AFC and the NFC to a total of 14, which has made late-season results more interesting. Based on the current standings, here’s an updated look at what each conference tournament would look like if the playoffs started now:
NFL standings for Week 17
AFC playoff picture
Who would be in?
(clinched) 1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-1), champions, AFC West. The Chiefs didn’t get many style points for their gritty win over the Falcons in Week 16, but the victory still secured the top seed and lone first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. They are well positioned as favorites to repeat as Super Bowl champions. They will be resting key players such as QB Patrick Mahomes for Sunday’s meaningless home finale. Remaining schedule: vs. LAC
(clinched) 2. Buffalo Bills (13-3), champions, AFC East. The Bills locked up the non-bye second seed behind the Chiefs with their rout of the Dolphins to close the season, taking advantage of the Steelers deciding to rest Ben Roethlisberger and not being interested in moving up to having a second home game in the playoffs. The Bills will host either the Colts, Titans or Dolphins (again) in the first round.
(clinched) 3. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4), champions, AFC North. The Steelers nearly beat the Browns with Mason Rudolph starting for Roethlisberger, but they ultimately fell short by two points. They would have stayed here regardless based on the Bills winning big over the Dolphins. Now the Steelers will need play the Browns a third time in the playoffs with Roethlisberger back under center this time.
4. Tennessee Titans (10-5), first place, AFC South. The Titans still hold the division-record tiebreaker over the Colts while having the same overall record after both teams lost in Week 16 — Tennessee at Green Bay and Indianapolis at Pittsburgh. The Titans clinched at least a wild-card berth when the Dolphins lost to the Bills. With a win in Week 17, the Titans would keep this seed as South champions. With a loss, the Titans still can win the division with a Colts loss. Remaining schedule: at HOU
(clinched) 5. Baltimore Ravens (11-5), second place, AFC North. The Ravens locked down the top wild-card spot with their wire-to-wire win over the Bengals. They will remain ahead of the Browns and Colts because of sweeping both teams. Should the Titans or Dolphins fall into the wild card, either would be one game behind both the Browns and Ravens. They will play the AFC South winnner, either the Titans or Colts, in the first round.
(clinched) 6. Cleveland Browns (11-5), third place, AFC North. The Browns ended their 17-season postseason drought by getting into the playoffs as the second AFC wild card and third team from the division behind the Ravens and Steelers after they beat the resting Steelers at home in Week 17. They will get a rubber rematch with the Steelers in the first round.
7. Indianapolis Colts (10-5), second place, AFC South. The Colts, thanks to the Dolphins losing, will be guaranteed at worst a wild-card spot, keeping this seed, by beating the Jaguars in Week 17. To also win the division, they need to win and hope the Titans lose at the Texans. Remaining scheudle: vs. JAX
Who can get there?
8. Dolphins (10-6), second place, AFC East
The Dolphins blew their chance to win and get in as a wild card by being routed by the division-winning Bills on the road in Week 17. Now they need to hope the Colts get upset at home by the lowly Jaguars to back-door into the playoffs with No. 7.
9. Las Vegas Raiders (7-8)
10. New England Patriots (7-9)
11. Los Angeles Chargers (6-9)
12. Denver Broncos (5-10)
13. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1)
14. Houston Texans (4-11)
15. New York Jets (2-14)
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14)
The Patriots became too inconsistent to get back into the wild-card race and the Week 15 loss at the Dolphins officially eliminated them. The Broncos and Texans are doing better than expected of late, but it’s more thinking about next year for both teams. The Chargers can think about what could have been with all their close losses, despite two recent wins. The Bengals were done when Joe Burrow went down in Week 11. The Jaguars and Jets have completed their battle for the top draft pick; the Jags clinched it in Week 16 with a loss to the Bears and the Jets’ win over the Browns.
NFC playoff picture
Who would be in?
1. Green Bay Packers (12-3), champions, NFC North. The Packers still have some work to do to secure home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs and earn that lone first-round bye. If the Packers win, they would be No. 1 no matter what the Saints and Seahawks do. If they lose, they would need the Seahawks to lose to get No. 1 or the Packers risk the possibility of tumbling to No. 3. Remaining schedule: at CHI
2. New Orleans Saints (11-4), champions, NFC South. The Saints have a tough path to No. 1 because they lost to the Packers in Week 3 and would lose the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Saints must beat the Panthers and hope the Packers and win and the Seahawks to create a three-way tie, where they would have the tiebreaker (based on conference record) for No. 1. Remaining schedule: at CAR
3. Seattle Seahawks (11-4), champions, NFC West. The Seahawks clinched the division by beating the Rams at home in Week 16. The Seahawks need to beat the 49ers in Week 17 to have a chance at No. 1. The Seahawks, along with a win, also would need losses by the Packers and the Saints. There’s a pretty good chance they will stay in this spot with long shots to move up either to the top or second seed. Remaining schedule: at SF
4. Washington Football Team (6-9), first place, NFC East. Washington doesn’t have much mystery about what it needs to do to win the division. The Football Team is in as NFC East champions and the No. 4 with a win over the Eagles. WFT is out with a loss, with the Giants stealing the title. Remaining schedule: at PHI
(clinched) 5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5) second place, NFC South. The Buccaneers locked down this top NFC wild-card spot with their pull-away from the Falcons in Week 17. That means they get a road date with the sub-.500 East champions in the first round, either at Washington or a rematch of a tight Monday night game at the Giants.
6. Los Angeles Rams (9-6), second place, NFC West. The Rams will be starting John Wolford at quarterback with a shorthanded offense around him in their most critical game. After losing the NFC West, they are trying to cling to a wild-card berth. If the Rams don’t beat the Cardinals to stay in, then they would need the Bears to loss to the Packers. They hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bears. Remaining schedule: vs. ARI
7. Chicago Bears (8-7), second place, NFC North. The Bears would hold this position and get in as a wild card behind the Packers by beating the Packers. If the Bears lose to the Packers, they would need the Cardinals to lose to the Rams to get into the playoffs. Remaining schedule: vs. GB
Who can get there?
8. Arizona Cardinals (8-7), third place, NFC West
The Cardinals also have control of a wild-card berth, like the Bears. They would be in with a win over the Rams, or they go home. There’s.no scenario where the Bears losing gets the Cardinals into the playoffs.
11. New York Giants (6-10), second place, NFC East
The Giants did their early part by holding off the Cowboys in Dallas. Now they need to hope Washington loses to the Eagles to win the division.
9. Minnesota Vikings (7-9)
10. San Francisco 49ers (6-9)
12. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
13. Carolina Panthers (5-10)
14. Detroit Lions (5-11)
15. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1)
16. Atlanta Falcons (4-12)
The Cowboys were finally eliminated from NFC East contention in Week 17 with their loss to the Giants. The Eagles and Vikings joined this group in Week 16. The Lions and Falcons are down here after firing their coaches earlier in the season. The 49ers joined them with consecutive home losses to the Bills and Washington. The rebuilding Panthers’ Week 15 loss in Green Bay was their eighth one-possession defeat this season. They followed that with an important one-possession win at Washington.